The Rise and Fall of Johnny Manziel
All those that know and follow sports have heard about the extraordinarily great and extraordinarily selfish/arrogant things that Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has done over the past year. Manziel is an amazing athlete. We can't take that away from him. He was the first QB to win the Heisman Trophy in his freshman year. When he started the year, nobody really knew who he was or how good he would be. He proved himself on the field with spectacular runs and a "SuperMan-like" performance against the nation's #1 team Alabama. His ability to make something out of nothing and his rise from unknown to the main attraction led to the nickname, "Johnny Football."
Along with being a star comes the public attention. Although it may be difficult to grasp what it is like to be in the spotlight constantly until you are in this situation, it is very well known that if you are a sports or entertainment star you will be followed and judged on your every move. As an athlete, your responsibilities go way beyond what you do on the field. You are not being paid or put on scholarship just to play but you sign a contract to represent the team, the institution and all your sponsors in a way that you will serve as a good role model for those in the public. You sign a contract stating that you will demonstrate the character that embodies the mission of the institution or entity that you represent. Although I am no where's near the public figure that Johnny Manziel is, I have been put in the public spotlight and i have been judged upon my actions. I have also signed contracts with sponsors and governing bodies that state I will represent the entity, the sport and the public in a positive manner. This doesn't mean you can't have your own personality or stick up for your own rights as an individual. It doesn't mean you can't do some of the things that people your age do. It doesn't even mean that if you do something wrong that you will shunned forever. It does mean however that if you do make mistakes or poor decisions that are out of line with the contract that you signed that you admit these mistakes and make changes so that you don't continually repeat these actions.
The problem with Johnny Manziel is not that he got in a bar fight and charged with 3 misdemeanors in 2012 or that he used a fake I.D. to get into bars and drink. Nor is the problem that he may or may not have received money for signing autographs during the bowl season. All of these are mistakes that someone could make in their life. The problem with Johnny Manziel is that he doesn't take responsibility for his actions and furthermore he goes on social media and makes arrogant comments that amplify the belief that he has no regret for his actions. This can best be explained by his statements in a press conference where he states, "I don't know why we are making such a big deal of this. Its not like I am doing anything illegal or anything. I'm just living like a 20yr old kid." Ok, let's dissect all of the untruthfulness of this statement. First, last time I checked being charged with 3 misdemeanors, carrying a fake I.D. and underage drinking are all illegal actions. Second, it is not in a normal life of a 20yr old to commit the following actions. Yes, people at this age do engage in such acts but it is not an ordinary action to get in a bar fight. Lastly, remember that contract you signed and the obligation that you committed to when you agreed to be a high profile athlete? You committed to representing the institution of Texas A&M in a positive manner. Furthermore, tweets stating, "I can't wait to leave College Station," are not good representations of your school. Making backlash tweets with a picture holding money in your hands and stating "I hope this picture is not against NCAA compliance," is not demonstrating the character that you agreed to. In fact, to me it is more implying, "I'll do what I want to NCAA so F#%@ you!!!"
The problem with Johnny Manziel is not that he has made some poor decisions in judgement, but rather there is no regret for these decisions and all of his decisions are made purely on what "Johnny" wants and not what is best for his team. In his head, he is playing for himself and not as a part of a team. If he did indeed get paid money for signing autographs, he probably didn't even take a second to think, "if I do this and get caught I will not be eligible or my team may have to fort games." It is very apparent that his decisions are purely made to benefit himself.
When you become a star athlete on a team, you also are expected to fulfill a leadership role. There is a great quote by John Maxwell that says, "A good leader is one that knows the way, goes the way and shows the way." If anyone believes that how Johnny Manziel has acted over the past six months displays the above definition of a leader I would love to hear the explanation.
Another aspect that just shocks me about how Manziel has acted of late is that it is a known fact that over the past few years NFL teams are hammering on "character" and players have slipped immensely in the draft because of "character issues." For a guy that is so ready to leave College Station and go to the NFL, it seems like he is not too worried about his character. This quote by J.C. Watts defines what character really is and then explains how people like Johnny Manziel view character.
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking.
There are too many people who think that the only thing that's
right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get
caught." -- J.C. Watts
As I watched the Texas A&M game yesterday and saw Manziel have to sit the first half of the game as NCAA punishment, my optimistic mindset told me that he was going to come in during the second half and play with respect for the game and make decisions as to not hurt his team. What did he do though? Immediately, he begins taunting the opposing team and making gestures as if he would sign an autograph for them if they wanted it. This was not only taunting the other team but was kind of another slap in the NCAA's face with regard to the allogations that he was paid for signing autographs. His antics didn't stop there. Later he scored a touchdown and immediately and for no reason got in the face of the opposition and continued to taunt them. This got his team an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and cost them 15yds. Following that incident, he showed no respect for his coach when he returned to the sideline and began arguing back at the coach.
Watching this and knowing the continual disrespect for sportsmanship, his teammates and his institution made me sick. I often wonder what his parents think of all of this. If he was my son, he wouldn't be playing football and he wouldn't walk into the house with the arrogance that he has. He would quickly be humbled and taught to be grateful for what he was given. If I was an NFL team, I wouldn't want to touch this guy with a wooden pole. Just like some of the other "great" characters in sports such Terrell Owns, Chad Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Dennis Rodman, Ryan Leaf etc, teams don't want to have to deal with those that disrupt the team and don't want to play by team rules. If Manziel doesn't realize it, his stock is plummeting like the stock market crash a few years ago. He better take a gander at who he currently is and who he wants to become or he will no longer be harolded as "Johnny Football."